Federalists and EPP group back Juncker for president

The Union of European Federalists has urged the European council to propose candidate Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European commission.

By Kayleigh Rose Lewis

17 Jun 2014

Meanwhile, members of the EPP group from different member states also expressed their support for Juncker, underlining the need to respect the European vote, during the conference of community and European affairs committees of parliaments of the EU in Greece.

EPP MEP Elmar Brok, who is also president of the Union of European Federalists, said, "The meaning and purpose of the European elections are at stake. Citizens were told that this time the European elections would be different, and they were different.

"Citizens were told that this time the European elections would be different, and they were different"-Elmar Brok

"European political parties nominated their candidates well in advance; the candidates submitted themselves and their program to the voters across Europe and engaged in pan-European debates," explained the German deputy.

"National political leaders, including many heads of government sitting in the European council, have been on the campaign trail with the candidates," he continued.

Turning his attention to UK prime minister David Cameron, who has been outspoken in his opposition to Juncker, Brok said, "This process can't be disregarded because of the internal political problems in the United Kingdom"

"The EPP, in national parliaments and the European parliament, support the idea of European citizens having a say in the election of the president of the European commission through the European elections to the European parliament, as clearly stated in the Lisbon treaty," he concluded.

Meanwhile his EPP group colleague Carlo Casini, explained, "The objective of getting citizens closer to Europe, also through the nomination of the commission president candidate, would not be reached if the will of the majority of citizens is not respected.

"On the contrary, this would widen the citizens’ feeling of distance from Europe which constitutes a non-negligible aspect of the democratic deficit," warned the Italian deputy.

Manfred Weber, the group's newly-elected chair, said that the main message from citizens in the European elections time that it's time to "get to work".

He said, "For the first time, pan-European 'Spitzencandidaten' - lead candidates proposed by the biggest political families - presented themselves to voters across our continent,"  adding, "This process will forever change the landscape of European politics."

"This process will forever change the landscape of European politics"-Manfred Weber

Speaking on the issue of commission president, Rebecca Harms, the Greens/EFA co-chair told the Parliament Magazine, "Europe and its citizens deserve a parliament that defends their interest.

"They also deserve a commission president that is willing to defend the European interest at a time when EU governments are retreating into their narrow national trenches," she added.

Turning her attention to the EPP candidate, she said, "Once Mr Juncker is nominated by the European council, the Greens/EFA group will certainly be open to giving him a hearing on his priorities and programme as European commission president.

Harms continued, "Clearly, our support will depend on how his vision corresponds to the priorities the Greens/EFA group believes should be set by the European commission for the coming five years. On this basis, we will decide whether or not to support him.

However, she clarified, "First things first: he must be nominated."

Unsurprisingly, Nigel Farage, leader of Eurosceptic British party Ukip, had a different outlook on the matter, saying, "Seeing the waste of time and money the European parliament spent on promoting candidates for the post of commission president, I thought was all a bit rash.

"The European council may still nominate its own candidate, as it is entitled to do under the Lisbon treaty"-Nigel Farage

"Things are still up in the air at this point, but the process did illustrate the lack of voter engagement and interest in the EU as a whole.

"The European council may still nominate its own candidate, as it is entitled to do under the Lisbon treaty," noted Farage.

"But," he warned, "whoever is appointed to the post, the commission president will be facing a very different terrain within the European parliament and a much more Eurosceptic population across the continent."

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